Museum to celebrate its 15th anniversary with solo exhibitions by Annie Albagli, Cara Levine, and Mika Rottenberg and an exhibition exploring the landmark building’s architectural significance and meaning
Tuesday, December 6, 2022 (San Francisco, CA) — The Contemporary Jewish Museum (The CJM) is excited to announce its exhibition calendar for 2023, which marks The Museum’s 15th anniversary of its celebrated building. Over the course of the next year The CJM will present solo exhibitions by Jewish women artists — Cara Levine, Annie Albagli, and Mika Rottenberg — whose work explores the ways that we find meaning and emotional connection amidst the social forces driving us apart. The CJM is also excited to present an exhibition celebrating the symbolism imbued in the architecture of The Museum’s landmark building on the occasion of its anniversary.
“As we enter our 15th anniversary year, we are drawing on The Museum’s history to move into the next era, taking stock of where we started, what has changed in the contemporary Jewish experience since that time, and mapping out what our future looks like as a result,” said CJM Executive Director Chad Coerver. “Each of the exhibitions we are presenting this coming year looks at facets of what it means to be Jewish in our world right now, and inspires new ways of thinking about how art can contribute to a more just, empathetic world. We are presenting works that are firmly grounded in Jewish life today, but that also look beyond it to explore how we can be better allies to one another, to our environment, and even to ourselves.”
Together, the exhibitions presented at The CJM in the year to come offer uniquely Jewish perspectives and invite visitors to experience the power of art to build resilient and inclusive communities in the contemporary moment.
Cara Levine: To Survive I Need You to Survive
February 16 - July 30, 2023
Curated by Qianjin Montoya, Assistant Curator
Beginning this winter, The CJM will present Cara Levine: To Survive I Need You to Survive, the first museum solo exhibition of the Los Angeles-based multimedia artist, who earned her MFA at California College of the Arts. With curiosity and openness, Levine’s practice explores loss, empathy, and equity through sculpture, video, and socially engaged art.
Among the works on view will be This is Not a Gun (2016–present), an evolving, socially engaged artwork of over 300 objects, which aims to broaden a national conversation around racial equity and accountability. The project was inspired by a list Levine found in Harper's magazine titled “Trigger Warning,” which named objects mistaken for guns in civilian shootings by police in the United States, and drew a strong connection to the thread of racism that ran through these shootings. Levine embarked on a major sculptural work, where she began to carve each of the 23 items on the list from wood — a wrench, a hairbrush, a Bible — in her studio as a ritual of grief and mourning. She then expanded the work to include public workshops where, in collaboration with community activists, participants were invited to make objects, learn the story of the victims in these shootings, and engage in dialogue about racial violence. Each object created at these workshops is added to the project’s archive. Also included in the exhibition is Dig a Hole to Put Your Grief In (2021), originally created in response to the collective traumas of the COVID-19 pandemic, pervasiveness of systemic racism, and threat of climate change. Levine searched for a way to contain the depth of grief she felt and knew others were feeling, too. Informed by the Jewish practice of shiva, a seven-day ritual of mourning, the site-specific installation at The CJM will offer a vessel to contain the grief of community members, and has been expanded to support those experiencing any kind of loss, from the passing of a loved one to the more nuanced grieving that comes from diverse and disparate lived experiences.
The CJM will also host workshops with the artist and some of her collaborators, and will present a series of installations and sculptural works that deal with collective practices around grief and mourning, climate change, and the transitory nature of everyday and ritual objects.
L’Chaim: Celebrating Our Building at 15
February 16, 2023 - June 9, 2024
Curated by Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator
The CJM will take a look inward with L’Chaim: Celebrating our building at 15, an exhibition that delves into the deep symbolism and history imbued in The Museum’s architecture. The Hebrew phrase l'chaim (“to life”) is one of the most pervasive phrases in Jewish and popular culture, expressed most often as a toast to mark celebrations and moments of togetherness. When renowned Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind began embarking on his design for The CJM, he centered on the root of this phrase, chai (meaning “life” or “alive”), because of the historic building’s role in restoring energy to the city after the 1906 earthquake, as well as The Museum's mission to enliven Jewish culture. Libeskind’s building design is based on the two Hebrew letters that spell chai in order to communicate the core of what The Museum would go on to explore within its walls: the liveliness of Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. The exhibition focuses on unpacking the symbolism behind the most visually striking spaces in the building.
Annie Albagli: We Become [Vessels]
March 23, 2023 - Jan 28, 2024
Curated by Qianjin Montoya, Assistant Curator
The CJM will present the video-based installation We Become [Vessels] by Bay Area-based artist Annie Albagli, which was developed during a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts with support from Asylum Arts. The work responds to this moment of isolation and the desire for connection. The work shows Albagli blowing a shofar, while standing on an embankment of rocks at the Marin Headlands. The sound of the shofar is used to mark many cycles and rhythms; in Jewish tradition it variously marks the new moon, the new year, the final moments of Yom Kippur, and in some commentaries is said to have stopped cycles of violence. In this video work Albagli uses the practice of blowing the shofar to invoke previous generations, relationships to war, and acts of compassion. The work investigates movement between places, people, and generations, while also exploring the threshold of the self and our interdependence with nature. Throughout the work, the word “return” is repeated, offering a way to center the body and to focus on the act of coming back to ourselves or a place that encapsulates us.
Mika Rottenberg: Spaghetti Blockchain
May 18 - October 22, 2023
Curated by Heidi Rabben, Senior Curator
One of the most innovative contemporary artists working today, New York-based Mika Rottenberg employs a disarmingly absurdist sense of humor to confront some of society’s most urgent social issues through film, architectural installation, and sculpture. In the first large-scale solo exhibition of Rottenberg’s work ever to be presented in Northern California, Rottenberg’s thought-provoking and irreverent works explore labor and the ever-intensifying focus on producing economic value in today’s hyper-capitalist world. Her imaginative editing process combines footage from real locations where specific systems of production and commerce are in place, with studio-built, speculative environments. In doing so, she collapses seemingly disparate places and concepts into subversive, pseudo-documentary visual narratives. The exhibition at The CJM will include Rottenberg’s three most recent immersive video installations — NoNoseKnows (2015); Cosmic Generator (2017); and Spaghetti Blockchain (2019) — a series of related kinetic and interactive sculptures, and an offsite screening of Rottenberg’s very first feature-length film, REMOTE (2022). The exhibition is a new iteration of a touring presentation of Rottenberg’s work, versions of which have been on view in New York, Los Angeles, Canada, and Denmark.
For over thirty years The CJM has engaged audiences and artists in exploring contemporary perspectives on Jewish culture, history, art, and ideas. In 2008, The Museum opened a new building designed by internationally renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, providing a lively center where people of all ages and backgrounds can gather to experience art, share diverse perspectives, and engage in educational activities. Inspired by the Hebrew phrase l’chaim (“to life”), the building is a physical embodiment of The CJM’s mission to bring together tradition and innovation in an exploration of the Jewish experience in the twenty-first century.
Major support for The CJM is generously provided by Craig Newmark Philanthropies; Bank of America; Gaia Fund; Grants for the Arts; Irving and Eleanor Jaffe Foundation; Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund; Maribelle and Stephen Leavitt; Joyce B. Linker; Alexandra O. Moses; The Bernard Osher Foundation; Dorothy R. Saxe; Seiger Family Foundation; Ruth S. Stein; and Roselyne C. Swig.
Major support for The CJM Helen Diller Institute is generously provided by The Helen Diller Family Foundation.
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